Category Archives: Life

The First Time I Used the Internet

It was 1994. I was eight years old. And I was pretty sure this was going to change everything.


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My mother and I were in the basement of a low-slung brick building. This was the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, the first place in town to get the internet.

My mom explained that you could type any question into the computer and get an answer. I hesitated, wondering, “What should I ask first?”

I typed in question after question, amazed as answers popped up like magic. Before I knew it, our hour was up and we emerged back into the light.

I was pretty sure this was going to be big.

All week, I wrote down question after question. I could hardly wait for Saturday, when we could go to the computer lab again.

About a year later, we found ourselves in a downtown office. Cables hung from the ceiling and boxes were half unpacked.

These were the offices of NorthNet, a new internet service provider. We were going to be one of their first customers.

I don’t know how we ever afforded it. But even back then, my mom must have seen that this was the future.

Soon, we were hearing the screech of the modem and interrogating Webcrawler at home.

By the late 90’s, my mom had switched to a new search engine called Copernic. Copernic aggregated results from a bunch of different search engines.

My mom began to notice that most of the best results were coming from a new search engine.

It was called Google. And it was just a few months old.

She wrote to them to tell them how great their results were. They responded with a care package full of Google swag: hats, shirts, you name it!

If only we had been accredited investors. We could’ve put a check in! 🙂

Those were great days on the early internet. The future seemed limitless and tech could only do good.

I didn’t know it then, but those hours in the computer lab would help form the rest of my life.

I worked in medical software after college. Later, I became an angel investor.

Today, I look for startups that can be as transformational as Google was.

They’re rare. But it only takes one.

Do you remember the first time you used the internet? What was it like?

Leave a comment at the bottom and let me know!

More on tech:

What I Don’t Invest In

Andreessen Crypto Fund Down 40%

Why Now Is the Best Time to Invest in Startups

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Save Money on Stuff I Use:

Fundrise

This platform lets me diversify my real estate investments so I’m not too exposed to any one market. I’ve invested since 2018 with great returns.

More on Fundrise in this post.

If you decide to invest in Fundrise, you can use this link to get $100 in free bonus shares!

Misfits Market

I’ve used Misfits for years, and it never disappoints! Every fruit and vegetable is organic, super fresh, and packed with flavor!

I wrote a detailed review of Misfits here.

Use this link to sign up and you’ll save $15 on your first order. 

Photos: Webcrawler in 1996

A Wisconsin Summer With The People Who Matter Most

As I entered the baggage claim, I heard an old friend’s voice calling my name. But where was he?

My head swiveled around, confused. Then, Matt* rolled up to me in a purloined wheelchair with a big smile on his face.

That’s when I knew this would be an interesting trip.

A mural in Milwaukee celebrating the great Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks!

One of the greatest things about the world today is how we’re getting back to the moments we used to love. In person events, concerts, and travel are finally returning to brighten our lives after a long absence.

I’m back today from the most wonderful vacation I’ve had in a long time! I got to see my mother and my old friends in Wisconsin for the first time since COVID.

I began with a visit with Matt in Milwaukee.

We’ve known each other since the 8th grade. I’m lucky to have such a longstanding friendship.

It had been nearly three years since we’d seen each other, but we didn’t miss a beat! We laughed all the way home from the airport, always on an adventure no matter what we’re doing.

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Milwaukee’s Hoan Bridge

Dinner was airy spanikopita and delicate baklava at Sts. Constantine and Helen Grecian Fest. Milwaukee is known as the City of Festivals, and in the warmer months there are celebrations of heritage and food almost every day.

The next day, I grabbed the bus north to my mother’s house. Getting to hug her after nearly three years apart felt like the end to the difficult period the world has been in for the last several years.

Or…almost the end. Ironically, we both got COVID for the first time as soon as I arrived!

Luckily, our symptoms were mild and we’ve made full recoveries. And on the bright side, COVID kept us close to home and enjoying the simple things, like reading on the glider as deer and chipmunks passed by.

Deer in the yard
The view from the glider

We played cards with the same deck we used with my great grandpa 30 years ago. We walked slowly down the streets at sunset, just happy to be together again.

Frozen custard at Culver’s a Wisconsin must!

After about a week, I came back to Milwaukee to meet Matt again, joined by our friend Brian* from Madison. When we all lived in the same neighborhood shortly after college, we were an inseparable trio.

But we hadn’t been together all at once since 2018. We ambled down the charming industrial streets like the Three Musketeers, always more excited when it’s all three of us together.

When they dropped me at the airport to go home to New York, I wanted nothing more than to stay! But they have work they need to get back to, and so do I.

There’s only so many times I can go three or four years without seeing friends and family. At that interval, I might see them a dozen more times at most before we’re all gone.

So I plan to come more often and enjoy that special feeling of being around those I love and have known the longest. As Dorothy said, there’s no place like home.

More on travel:

A Special Weekend in Stokes State Forest

Pine Barrens Glamping in Brendan Byrne State Forest

Is this NJ’s Most Beautiful Spot?

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Save Money on Stuff I Use:

Fundrise

This platform lets me diversify my real estate investments so I’m not too exposed to any one market. I’ve invested since 2018 with great returns.

More on Fundrise in this post.

If you decide to invest in Fundrise, you can use this link to get $100 in free bonus shares!

Misfits Market

I’ve used Misfits for years, and it never disappoints! Every fruit and vegetable is organic, super fresh, and packed with flavor!

I wrote a detailed review of Misfits here.

Use this link to sign up and you’ll save $15 on your first order. 

*Names have been changed

A Frozen Valentine in New York

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Considerate husbands begin planning Valentine’s Day months in advance.

Flowers are ordered. Reservations made. Wine chilled.

Yeah, I didn’t do any of that. 🙂

So I was left scrambling to find a dinner reservation in New York City on what is probably the busiest night of the year!

The wife and I wound up eating outside in temperatures of 23 degrees. Winter wasn’t going to keep us from the meal of our dreams!

Fortunately, the food at Bar Boulud made the cold an afterthought. I thought I’d share this amazing experience with you guys so you know where to go next year!

The appetizers:

Ora king salmon tarte with avocado, crème fraîche, and caviar. My wife being willing to give me a bite is the definition of true love.

The caviar was the best I’ve ever tasted, with an earthy quality a little like truffles.

Lobster Bisque. Unctuous, delicious. The little bits of lobster swimming in the soup were a nice touch.

The entrees:

Halibut with farro. When I sampled this, I marveled at the perfect, soft flakiness of the fish.

I had never had farro, but with this champagne beurre blanc sauce, I shoveled it in eagerly!

Beef duo. Braised short rib and tenderloin.

The short rib stole the show. It fell apart in my mouth, full of moist, fatty, umami flavor.

Dessert:

An assortment of ice creams for the missus: brown sugar, vanilla, and a pear sorbet.

Every Boulud restaurant has ridiculously good ice cream, made in house. The depth of cream and vanilla bean flavor made the vanilla my favorite.

A dark chocolate entremet for me. Don’t ask me what an entremet is.

All I know is this yummy chocolate mousse, along with hazelnut ice cream and some kind of little chocolate crumbly things, was amazing.

I’ve never seen hazelnut ice cream anywhere else. This needs to be in stores!

If you like Nutella, you’ll love this.


In all, outdoor dining, even in frigid temperatures, was pretty comfortable. A well-built shelter to block the wind plus patio heaters go a long way.

After a tough two years for our little blue planet, I was grateful just to sit down with someone near and dear and enjoy a good meal, both of us healthy. I hope that once this crisis recedes, I can maintain that gratitude.

How was your Valentine’s Day? Leave a comment at the bottom and let me know!

P.S. This place also has the best burger in NYC.

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More on food:

The Best Mexican Food Is In…New Jersey?

The Best Bakery in NYC (It’s Not Levain)

New Jersey’s Jelly Donut Heaven

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Save Money on Stuff I Use:

Amazon Business American Express Card

You already shop on Amazon. Why not save $100?

If you’re approved for this card, you get a $100 Amazon gift card. You also get up to 5% back on Amazon and Whole Foods purchases, 2% on restaurants/gas stations/cell phone bills, and 1% everywhere else.

Best of all: No fee!

Fundrise

This platform lets me diversify my real estate investments so I’m not too exposed to any one market. I’ve invested since 2018 and returns have been great so far.

More on Fundrise in this post.

If you decide to invest in Fundrise, you can use this link to get your management fees waived for 90 days

Misfits Market

My wife and I have gotten organic produce shipped to our house by Misfits for over a year. It’s never once disappointed me.

Every fruit and vegetable is super fresh and packed with flavor.

I thought radishes were cold, tasteless little lumps at salad bars until I tried theirs! They’re peppery, colorful and crunchy!

I wrote a detailed review of Misfits here.

Use this link to sign up and you’ll save $10 on your first order. 

How the Bulls Dominated the NBA

Michael Jordan plays basketball better than anyone else in the world does anything else.

Scott Turow, quoted in Playing for Keeps: Michael Jordan and the World He Made

The Chicago Bulls dominated their league like no other team in no other sport during the 1990’s. They won 6 NBA championships, an astounding record. 

I just finished reading the outstanding book Playing for Keeps: Michael Jordan and the World He Made. It’s an insightful look into what made Jordan and his Bulls so special. 

Here are some of their secrets:

1) Hard work. Jordan came to practice before anyone and left last. This got him from being rejected for the high school varsity to dominating the pros. 

2) Coachability. Anyone who coached Jordan, even in baseball, said he was unusually coachable. His willingness to learn from others, rather than think he knew everything, set him apart. 

Consider that for a player of his stature, it would be easy to dismiss a coach’s suggestion! But he didn’t. 

Even the quirky Dennis Rodman listened carefully to coach Phil Jackson’s lessons.

3) Love of the game. Both Jordan and Scottie Pippen stood out for truly loving basketball. 

Jordan even had a highly unusual clause in his contract. He could stop at any basketball court in the world, any time, and play a pickup game.

And he did so, frequently! I like imagining Jordan pulling up at a playground in a fancy car, lacing up his sneakers, and heading out onto the court.

I just wouldn’t want to have to guard him!

This type of clause is highly unusual due to the risk of injury, but Jordan insisted on it.

It’s hard to work at something so intensely for so many years if you don’t love it! And that’s what it takes to excel. 

4) Ability to see others strengths, not just their weaknesses.

Jackson was upset when Pippen refused to play at the end of the Eastern Conference Finals.  But he didn’t let that incident sour him on Scottie as a player.

Instead, he viewed it in the context of all of Scottie’s great work over the years.  Even the exacting Jordan became more aware of his teammates’ strengths over time.

This is an area I struggle with. If someone does one thing wrong, I tend to view them negatively, forgetting all their great work. 

I plan to take a lesson from Coach Jackson on this in the future! 

5) Never giving up. Jordan was famously cut by his high school team. 

Rodman didn’t even make the team at all. And Pippen started college basketball at a no-name school as the team equipment manager. 

These are not people you would think would’ve ever even made it to the NBA, much less won 6 championships. 

Their perseverance made the difference!

Check out this excellent book along with the addictive Netflix series The Last Dance. Even if you’re not a basketball fan, you can learn a lot from the Bulls about excellence in any field! 

More on leadership:

From Anticommunist to Navy SEAL: “I Owe Everything to America”

Jocko on Leadership: “Ownership Is the Most Valuable Compensation”

The Best Motivational Speech of 2021

Photo: “Michael Jordan” by simplistic.designs is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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Save Money on Stuff I Use:

Amazon Business American Express Card

You already shop on Amazon. Why not save $100?

If you’re approved for this card, you get a $100 Amazon gift card. You also get up to 5% back on Amazon and Whole Foods purchases, 2% on restaurants/gas stations/cell phone bills, and 1% everywhere else.

Best of all: No fee!

Fundrise

This platform lets me diversify my real estate investments so I’m not too exposed to any one market. I’ve invested since 2018 and returns have been good so far. More on Fundrise in this post.

If you decide to invest in Fundrise, you can use this link to get your management fees waived for 90 days. With their 1% management fee, this could save you $250 on a $100,000 account.

Misfits Market

My wife and I have gotten organic produce shipped to our house by Misfits for over a year. It’s never once disappointed me. Every fruit and vegetable is super fresh and packed with flavor. I thought radishes were cold, tasteless little lumps at salad bars until I tried theirs! They’re peppery, colorful and crunchy! I wrote a detailed review of Misfits here.

Use this link to sign up and you’ll save $10 on your first order. 

At the Top Dog Gala!

On Tuesday night, I had the joy of attending the Top Dog Gala, a benefit for the Animal Medical Center (AMC) in New York City. AMC saved my little gerbil’s life three times and helped him live to a ripe old age, so I love getting a chance to support such a great cause!

AMC is an incredible place. It feels like a high end human hospital more than a veterinary one.

There are departments of hematology, orthopedics, radiology, you name it. The imaging machines they use were bought from human hospitals, just a couple years old.

There’s nowhere better to take your pet. And despite the very high level of care, you’d be surprised how reasonable their prices are!

On Tuesday night, we filed into the beautiful Cipriani 42nd Street in the heart of Manhattan. I had passed the building a million times but never been inside.

It’s a beautifully converted bank with some of the teller windows still intact! I admired the massive windows and velvet curtains while munching on delicious snacks.

As the dinner was about to start, a very funny older lady came from the bar:

I’m getting a double. It’s going to be a long night with a lot of speeches.

Chuckling to myself, I sat down at a table replete with flowers and the presentation began. AMC President Kathryn Coyne introduced us to Sadie, a very special German Shepherd who saved her owner Brian’s life when he was having a stroke.

She licked Brian’s face to keep him awake after the stroke, then helped drag him to the phone to call for help. Without Sadie, Brian wouldn’t be here.

They may not be able to speak, but it’s amazing how animals touch all our lives.

We also met the canine officers of the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) police! I was struck by their bravery.

Humans sign up for that job. Dogs don’t. But they do it all the same, risking their lives to keep us safe.

The Top Dog Gala made it clear how animals support us. But how can we support them?

By supporting AMC! AMC gives away a fortune in free care every year for those who cannot afford it.

But they can’t do that without our help! Please consider joining me in donating to this wonderful cause today.

The cute doggies, kitties, birds and rodents will thank you!

More on animals:

Cute Animals Online: My Top 5

The Real Groundhogs of New Jersey

When The Cat Who Supported Her Through Cancer Got Sick, Jessica Knew What She Had to Do

If you found this post interesting, please share it on Twitter/Facebook/etc. using the buttons at the bottom of the page. This helps more people find the blog! 

Save Money on Stuff I Use:

Amazon Business American Express Card

You already shop on Amazon. Why not save $100?

If you’re approved for this card, you get a $100 Amazon gift card. You also get up to 5% back on Amazon and Whole Foods purchases, 2% on restaurants/gas stations/cell phone bills, and 1% everywhere else.

Best of all: No fee!

Fundrise

This platform lets me diversify my real estate investments so I’m not too exposed to any one market. I’ve invested since 2018 and returns have been good so far. More on Fundrise in this post.

If you decide to invest in Fundrise, you can use this link to get your management fees waived for 90 days. With their 1% management fee, this could save you $250 on a $100,000 account.

Misfits Market

My wife and I have gotten organic produce shipped to our house by Misfits for over a year. It’s never once disappointed me. Every fruit and vegetable is super fresh and packed with flavor. I thought radishes were cold, tasteless little lumps at salad bars until I tried theirs! They’re peppery, colorful and crunchy! I wrote a detailed review of Misfits here.

Use this link to sign up and you’ll save $10 on your first order. 

Starting a Financial Plan from 0

One of my oldest friends just got his dream job! He’s found fulfillment, accomplishment, and a lot more money.

But what should he do with it?

Matt* wanted to know how he could set himself up for a strong financial future, now that he’s finally making good money. I find a lot of friends and family in their 30’s asking me this question lately.

They come to me because I invest for a living and they want guidance. And I’m honored by that.

So I decided to sketch out a financial gameplan starting from zero, for them and for you.

Soon, you’ll be able to afford jewelry like Mr. T’s! 🙂

Step 1: Save 6 Month Emergency Fund

What if you lose your job or get sick? You don’t want to have to worry about being out on the street or unable to afford food.

And if you’re counting on unemployment, you’re putting yourself at serious risk. That check can take a very long time to come.

So I suggest saving six months of basic expenses in a high yield bank account (this is what I use). Basic expenses include rent or mortgage, utilities, and groceries.

You’ll get a little interest, but the real payoff is in financial security.

Why not just invest this money in the stock market? Because if the market drops by half all of a sudden, as happens from time to time, you won’t have six months of basic expenses anymore. You’ll only have three.

And that may not be enough.

Step 2: Pay Off Debt

It’s heretical to tell people not to pay off their debt first. But the reality is that lenders can often be stalled for a while. Your need to eat can’t.

Yes, your credit card or auto debt could accumulate for a bit while you save up your emergency fund. But it’s better than having an empty bank account if you lose your job.

I suggest keeping expenses down so you can save up that emergency fund and zap your debt ASAP. Once you have an emergency fund and no debt, you can relax a little.

When you’re ready to start paying off debt, choose the highest interest loans first.

If a loan has a lower interest rate than the stock market’s typical 10% return, it may make sense to invest instead of paying that loan off. This is often the case for mortgages.

Step 3: Start Investing

Yay! This is the fun part. This is when you go from just getting by to building wealth.

But investing is so confusing! Tons of companies, countless possibilities.

Here’s where to start: open a Vanguard account and just start buying the Vanguard Total Stock Market Index. On day 1, you’ll own almost 4,000 stocks.

And you’ll only pay 0.04% in management fees per year. On a $3000 account, that’s just $1.20.

Low fees are really important because high management fees can kill your returns.

I’ve used Vanguard for years and the service is outstanding. It forms a core part of my portfolio to this day.

To begin with, you’ll want to max out your 401k and IRA. Afterward, keep investing as much as you can!

It’s ambitious, but I suggest saving half your income if at all possible. It provides a wonderful cushion in tough times and can ultimately free you from working for others.

Step 4: Advanced Investing

You now own several thousand dollars worth of the Vanguard Total Stock Market Index. Congratulations, you capitalist fatcat!

Now, you may want to add other types of investments to your portfolio. Those could include international stocks and real estate, both of which Vanguard offers.

A portfolio with more diversification across parts of the world and asset classes (stocks vs. real estate, for example) tends to perform better over time.

Step 5: Ninja Level Investing

Once you’ve mastered the Vanguard game and built up a considerable balance, you may consider investing in private real estate (I use Fundrise) or tech startups.

These asset classes can provide higher returns, but they have a lot of risk. You often don’t get your money back for years, if ever.

If you’re just starting out, ninja level is a long way off. Crawl and walk before you try to run!

Wrap Up

I like seeing people take control of their lives and their money. That’s why I wrote this post.

If you follow this plan, you can go from an empty bank account and big credit card bills to a growing investment account paying you money.

You just have to take that first step!

Leave your questions in the comment section at the very bottom of the page!

More on money:

FOMO: Investors’ Worst Enemy

Where Can We Hide in a Financial Crisis?

Will Evergrande Spark a Global Financial Crisis?

*Not his real name

Photo: “Me & Mr. T” by roadkillbuddha is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

If you found this post interesting, please share it on Twitter/Reddit/etc. using the buttons at the bottom of the page. This helps more people find the blog! 

Save Money on Stuff I Use:

Amazon Business American Express Card

You already shop on Amazon. Why not save $100?

If you’re approved for this card, you get a $100 Amazon gift card. You also get up to 5% back on Amazon and Whole Foods purchases, 2% on restaurants/gas stations/cell phone bills, and 1% everywhere else.

Best of all: No fee!

Fundrise

This platform lets me diversify my real estate investments so I’m not too exposed to any one market. I’ve invested since 2018 and returns have been good so far. More on Fundrise in this post.

If you decide to invest in Fundrise, you can use this link to get your management fees waived for 90 days. With their 1% management fee, this could save you $250 on a $100,000 account.

iHerb

The only place I buy vitamins and supplements. I recently placed an order and received it in less than 48 hours with free shipping! I compared the prices and they were lower than Amazon. I also love how they test a lot of the vitamins so that you know you’re getting what the label says. This isn’t always the case with supplements.

Use this link to save 5%! 

Misfits Market

My wife and I have gotten organic produce shipped to our house by Misfits for over a year. It’s never once disappointed me. Every fruit and vegetable is super fresh and packed with flavor. I thought radishes were cold, tasteless little lumps at salad bars until I tried theirs! They’re peppery, colorful and crunchy! I wrote a detailed review of Misfits here.

Use this link to sign up and you’ll save $10 on your first order. 

From Anticommunist to Navy SEAL: “I Owe Everything to America”

“I owe everything to America.”

That’s Thomas ‘Drago’ Dzieran, who left Communist Poland in the 1980’s for freedom in America and became a Navy SEAL. His path to the teams is singular.

Drago began to oppose Communism at an early age. He refused to learn Russian in school and was promptly hauled to the principal’s office. The principal explained to him that if he refused again, he could be taken from his family and sent to a foster home.

This did not stop Drago from questioning the Communist system. He listened secretly listened to the BBC on the radio, a highly illegal act. There he learned that the Communist government was killing people in Poland. He covered himself in blankets to dampen the sound as he listened, but his mother scolded him to use even more blankets and pillows lest a neighbor hear. If anyone heard, she could go to prison.

But Drago didn’t need a radio broadcast to tell him things in Poland weren’t right:

“I was always cold in Poland because we didn’t have good clothes.”

Privation was the norm, and he often went to school hungry. He took to assaulting the children of high party members, who were well fed. If you want to eat tomorrow, bring two sandwiches, he told them.

As a young man, Drago found himself in a Polish prison for printing anti-Communist leaflets. When released, he emigrated to the United States, and found himself resettled in Memphis, Tennessee by a refugee program.

The luxury of America amazed him. He had never seen air conditioning before, and found himself particularly mesmerized by American grocery stores. The cereal aisle had so many choices, and the packages were so attractive, he decided to try one. And another, and another. Soon, his cart was full of 50 boxes of cereal! But he couldn’t stop his curiosity:

“I didn’t even know what a cereal was.”

After a stint as an auto mechanic, Drago was looking for a way to serve his adopted home. He settled on being a Navy SEAL, but at 32, he was at least 4-5 years beyond the typical age limit. No matter. He powered through the qualification tests and insisted on being allowed into BUD/S. Drago later distinguished himself as a SEAL during the Iraq war.

Drago’s commitment to freedom continues today, as the founder of a censorship-free social network called Connectzing.

What really struck me in this interview was Drago’s perseverance, along with the stark differences between the United States and where he comes from. On living conditions in Poland under Communism:

“I would trade my life in Poland for prison here.”

After all, they get food and medical attention! That’s better than he got much of his life.

Drago says he owes everything to America, and that’s equally true for those of us who are native born. Let’s seize the opportunity, remembering these words:

“This is America. You can be whatever you’re able to be.”

For more on leadership and service, check out these posts:

If you found this post interesting, please share it on Twitter/Reddit/Facebook/etc. using the buttons below. This helps more people find the blog! And please leave a comment at the bottom of the page letting me know what you think and what other information you’re interested in!

Check out the Stuff I Use page for some great deals on products and services I use to improve my health and productivity. They just might help you too!

Photo: “Navy SEAL Graduation” by uscgpress is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Jocko on Leadership: “Ownership Is the Most Valuable Compensation”

What motivates subordinates? A fat paycheck, stock options, maybe a free trip to Hawaii?

Perhaps. But on Monday’s Debrief podcast, Navy SEAL Commander and author Jocko Willink named another, more powerful inducement:

“Ownership is the most powerful compensation you can give a human being.”

People want control over their lives, including at work. So, rather than have subordinates execute your plan, Jocko favors giving them a goal and letting them figure out how they’ll get there on their own.

When a person gets a chance to come up with a plan themselves, they’ll find increasingly efficient ways to do it. After all, most of us like to think we’re smarter than the boss and should really be running things. This is our chance to prove it, and we’re unlikely to blow that chance.

What’s more, whether in the military or civilian world, subordinates are a lot more familiar with the nitty gritty of a certain job than the boss is. Leaving the details of a plan to them, with the boss just setting overall goals and then approving the plan to reach them, gives them more latitude to bring that experience to bear.

Finally, running things is fun! When it’s your little idea, you’re a lot more invested in it. So give your subordinates a chance to come up with plans themselves, rather than just waiting for instructions. You may be surprised how well they do.

For more on business and leadership, check out these posts:

If you found this post interesting, please share it on Twitter/Reddit/Facebook/etc. using the buttons below. This helps more people find the blog! And please leave a comment at the bottom of the page letting me know what you think and what other information you’re interested in!

Check out the Stuff I Use page for some great deals on products and services I use to improve my health and productivity. They just might help you too!

In GameStop, An Unlikely Community

I spent some time browsing the GME sub* on Reddit yesterday, curious what some of the stock’s most fervent supporters are saying. What I found surprised me.

The most striking discussions were intensely personal. One poster described saving up his GameStop winnings for sex reassignment surgery, a lifelong dream (usernames redacted):

Other posters, who call themselves “apes” in a reference to the movie Planet of the Apes, were extraordinarily supportive. Some even expressed a determination to hold the stock to help the original poster, even though one person selling or holding won’t have a material impact on the price. There were a few salty words for hedge funder Ken Griffin though:

It struck me that, in a time when people are forced to be apart, humans have managed to create community in the most unlikely of places. It says something about the human spirit than even in a disembodied online world, where the topic is an intangible financial instrument, brotherhood (and sisterhood) flourishes. I find it rather beautiful.

That said, I encourage the posters to simply support each other as people, rather than tying that to a stock. Take it from a professional investor: a stock doesn’t know you own it and doesn’t care about you. It’s a legal construct that gives you ownership rights in a company. And truth be told, it’s a shaky business. I’d hate to see such nice people get hurt.

For more on GameStop and the Reddit trade, check out these posts:

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The Top 5 Things That Changed When I Started Working for Myself

For fourteen years, four months and eleven days, I worked in software. My job was like a lot of jobs: conducted in a cubicle or sometimes remotely, during regular business hours, and almost every week of the year.

In July of 2019, I left that job to make my investment business full time. I still remember the feeling when I walked out of the office for the last time into a hot, sunny summer’s day…”Wow, this is it, I’m really gone”.

Looking back on the past 21 months, I decided to write down a few of the biggest changes in my life since leaving the world of corporate employment:

1) Your time is your own. When I wake up in the morning, I eat breakfast and do a little journaling. I can plan out a day focusing on whatever I want. The ability to design your own day is a huge difference from working at a company, where you’re crossing off items on someone else’s to-do list.

2) You find yourself suddenly immersed in new areas on a regular basis. In the last couple of months, I’ve done deep dives into COVID, vaccines, meme stocks, and startups. Some for business purposes, some just because I’m interested. When your time is your own, you find yourself delving into new topics a lot more frequently.

3) It’s harder to decide what success means. At a job success means not getting fired, getting a raise every year, and maybe a promotion. How do you define success in your own business? That’s a lot more subjective, and I tend to move the goalposts further whenever I reach a goal. This can put you on something of a treadmill. It’s important to get off sometimes and smell the roses.

4) You have more energy. Even though I almost never use an alarm clock anymore, I wake up earlier and am more energetic in general. Being able to do what I want with my time gives me energy. Doing what someone else wanted all day tended to drain it.

If you can make money through something other than selling your time, like investing or writing or selling a software product, you can remove that ceiling on your income.

5) The sky is the limit. My investments this past year made far more than I ever made working, and new investments I’m planning in early stage startups could blow away all previous earnings if things go right. (Or go to zero if they go wrong!)

If you work for a company, your raises usually come yearly and they’re only so much. There’s a limit to how much an employer will pay for an hour of your labor in most fields. What’s more, you only have at most 24 hours a day to sell! But if you can make money through something other than selling your time, like investing or writing or selling a software product, you can remove that ceiling on your income.

If you can generate enough income to fund even a modest living, and you aspire to work for yourself, I encourage you to do it!

If you can generate enough income to fund even a modest living, and you aspire to work for yourself, I encourage you to do it! If you can’t, build up a side business over time and eventually you’ll be ready!

For more on improving your life, check out these posts:

Photo: “The Workaholic NSA” by herval is licensed under CC BY 2.0